Experimental APs - why not one going to Level 20?


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Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Not the same, but related: I would love to see a long-format (i.e. post Dragons Demand style) module for the high levels. Like 16-19 range, PFS sanctioned, that could take you from the end of Wardens of the Reborn Forge to finish at 20th level.


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PFS doesn't go past 11th level I thought, but yes I second a higher level adventure in the new longer module format.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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There are PFS sanctioned modules at all levels of play, although there are so few in the 15 and above levels that there's a very narrow path to 20. Wardens of the Reborn Forge goes from 12 to 16 if you play it as a Seeker arc; what I'd like to see is a similar sanctioned high level module that takes you from 16 to 20.


One thing that would help at all levels would be to use abbreviated stat blocks like D&D 2nd Edition adventures used. Those could compress everything you needed to know other than personality/background (which they usually left unwritten and which can't be compressed much anyway) into a handful of lines. Granted, with D&D 3.x/Pathfinder such abbreviation wouldn't get THAT compact (you have to list a full ability array, skills, and feats for everything), but D&D 3.x seems to have gone to the other extreme on top of that, insisting on writing everything out in full. (Pathfinder actually seems slightly better about this than D&D 3.x, but still has quite a way to go to get back to 2nd Edition compactness.) The reason I bring this up is that since long stat blocks are one of the complaints of high levels, brevity would help there as well as earlier.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

One thing that would help at all levels would be to use abbreviated stat blocks like D&D 2nd Edition adventures used. Those could compress everything you needed to know other than personality/background (which they usually left unwritten and which can't be compressed much anyway) into a handful of lines. Granted, with D&D 3.x/Pathfinder such abbreviation wouldn't get THAT compact (you have to list a full ability array, skills, and feats for everything), but D&D 3.x seems to have gone to the other extreme on top of that, insisting on writing everything out in full. (Pathfinder actually seems slightly better about this than D&D 3.x, but still has quite a way to go to get back to 2nd Edition compactness.) The reason I bring this up is that since long stat blocks are one of the complaints of high levels, brevity would help there as well as earlier.

How would you compress PF statblocks? The only thing that comes to mind is skills, since in high level combat you don't usually have skill usage.


leo1925 wrote:
How would you compress PF statblocks? The only thing that comes to mind is skills, since in high level combat you don't usually have skill usage.

I've played around with this some. You can make stat blocks drastically shorter and more transparent... but only if you make the enemies (especially PC-class enemies) way simpler.

Of course, that's also nice because it makes it easier to run complex fights. But it does require a different style of enemy and some rules tweaks/assumptions.

Cheers!
Landon


Actually some players have been abbreviating the most critical parts of statblocks already for their own PCs in PbPs, with varying degrees of success, and even figured out how to shoehorn this into the Paizo messageboards character sheet in such a way that it appears as a spoiler at the top of every message. Biggest problem is spells, which don't lend themselves well to compression (this is also true for feats, but those are less numerous). I should mess around with this for my own character sheets when I get a new real computer so that I can actually edit them (posting from a phone right now).


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James Jacobs wrote:

There's a lot of reasons why we don't do full 1 to 20 APs that much anymore, but one of them that folks might not realize is a significant factor is that it pretty much takes a developer a fixed amount of time to develop a number of pages. That number is about where the adventures are currently at. If we want to keep things on a monthly schedule (and we do!) then the actual physical size of each adventure can't grow significantly larger, and certainly not large enough to get another 3 levels in. The fact that the back half of an AP volume is developed by someone else entirely from the adventure itself is why we can do a 96 page book each month.

There were 2 reasons why we were able to hit 20th level in the Dungeon Magazine APs:
1) We had a year to do each AP, rather than six months.
2) The XP progression in 3.5 D&D was faster even than our fastest track in Pathfinder.

All of that said, we do keep tinkering with ways to get higher level APs. Shattered Star's focus on dungeons, which are the most efficient page to XP adventures, allowed that AP to reach 18th level without changing adventure size. Wrath of the Righteous hit 20 by throwing Mythic in (to mixed success).

We MAY try other stunts and tricks in the future, but it's also important to keep in mind that the formula we have now for APs is REALLY well-oiled and efficient and is still doing very well for us, so we'e pretty hesitant to make too many big changes to things along the way.

Stay tuned, though; we'll see what we can do.

This might be a really silly question. But, what about adding a 7th book either after the fact or right next after the 6th? I don't know what your work flows are like but could a developer split time or a couple developers split time? You could make it a module size book at 36 pages rather than the full 96 and don't include the tale, the expanded article, and so on. Make it part of the "continuing the adventure" section for the segue. Maybe let some folks at Paizo who don't get to do AP development to get some toes in the door by keeping it so narrowly focused. Maybe have them shadow the person doing the last 3 books. Crazy, blasphemous ideas, I know... but would that even be practical?


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The friendly T-Rex explained it as "we don't want to leave an adventure hanging, so we wrap things up in Book 6 - requiring people to buy a module to finish it would be unfair." (Well, I'm kind of summing things up there.)

They do a lot of work on their APs. Hell, just brainstorming ideas for an adventure with a couple of friends has taken me a bit of time. Admittedly, I'm doing this part-time and more as a lark, but even so it's not exactly easy to write a module.

(BTW, James, as a brief aside, are all the monsters in Pathfinder built assuming players use a 15-point build? If so, why is the Pathfinder Society using a 20-point build? How do the stats interact with a monster's Challenge Rating?)

Also, Paizo has a different writer for each book of the AP. If I were to hazard a guess, it probably takes 2-3 months to write up the AP. Then you also have the artists doing work (based on suggestions, probably including thumbnails and decisions on what form the art will take) and perhaps a brief trial run to see if things work.

Crafting APs is hard work. :) Heck, crafting adventures is hard work. This is why I buy Paizo's APs, and why I want them to do the hard work here. ;)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Tangent101 wrote:


(BTW, James, as a brief aside, are all the monsters in Pathfinder built assuming players use a 15-point build? If so, why is the Pathfinder Society using a 20-point build? How do the stats interact with a monster's Challenge Rating?)

While I'm obviously not James, I always figured that PFS gave you a more generous point buy to make up for the fact that you will often be playing with a randomly assembled party of strangers. A coherent group is a force multiplier that you often lack in PFS.


Buri Reborn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

There's a lot of reasons why we don't do full 1 to 20 APs that much anymore, but one of them that folks might not realize is a significant factor is that it pretty much takes a developer a fixed amount of time to develop a number of pages. That number is about where the adventures are currently at. If we want to keep things on a monthly schedule (and we do!) then the actual physical size of each adventure can't grow significantly larger, and certainly not large enough to get another 3 levels in. The fact that the back half of an AP volume is developed by someone else entirely from the adventure itself is why we can do a 96 page book each month.

There were 2 reasons why we were able to hit 20th level in the Dungeon Magazine APs:
1) We had a year to do each AP, rather than six months.
2) The XP progression in 3.5 D&D was faster even than our fastest track in Pathfinder.

All of that said, we do keep tinkering with ways to get higher level APs. Shattered Star's focus on dungeons, which are the most efficient page to XP adventures, allowed that AP to reach 18th level without changing adventure size. Wrath of the Righteous hit 20 by throwing Mythic in (to mixed success).

We MAY try other stunts and tricks in the future, but it's also important to keep in mind that the formula we have now for APs is REALLY well-oiled and efficient and is still doing very well for us, so we'e pretty hesitant to make too many big changes to things along the way.

Stay tuned, though; we'll see what we can do.

This might be a really silly question. But, what about adding a 7th book either after the fact or right next after the 6th? I don't know what your work flows are like but could a developer split time or a couple developers split time? You could make it a module size book at 36 pages rather than the full 96 and don't include the tale, the expanded article, and so on. Make it part of the "continuing the adventure" section for the segue. Maybe let some folks at Paizo who don't get to do...

Only 36? Even without the tale, the Golarion lore article, the bestiary and even without the article that describes the place that the adventure takes place, each AP takes 60-65 pages.

That's pretty much the size of the new modules.

By the way i would very much like modules that would function as book 7 of an AP, also i don't think that we would need too many of them. I think one every two years would be great, that way you have 4 APs to choose from and it isn't too much "high level stuff".

Liberty's Edge

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Tangent101 wrote:

The friendly T-Rex explained it as "we don't want to leave an adventure hanging, so we wrap things up in Book 6 - requiring people to buy a module to finish it would be unfair." (Well, I'm kind of summing things up there.)

In that case (and this has no doubt been proposed before), how about a module-sized addendum to an existing AP that adds enough interstitial material to give the players a few more levels, and punches up the various late-game encounters to reflect that? That way the wrapup is still the same, and you can play the AP just fine w/o the addendum. I grant that it wouldn't be easy, but I think there are already people who are doing things like that (aftermarket AP mods). At least one downside is that it'd be going after a niche market--it's not just a high-level module, it's only usable if you already have the AP.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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It seems to me the solution would be to have a standalone adventure for level 17 or so, that also works really well as a followup to a specific AP. So instead of "adventure 7," which would only sell to people who had already played the AP and wanted more (an admittedly small pool), have an adventure for 17th-18th level characters, that can be used by any group or for any campaign, that also has similar themes to an AP and is recommended for those who want to continue on. That seems like it would expand the potential customer base. It may not be enough, since my understanding is that even generic high level adventures don't do too well.


ryric wrote:
It seems to me the solution would be to have a standalone adventure for level 17 or so, that also works really well as a followup to a specific AP. So instead of "adventure 7," which would only sell to people who had already played the AP and wanted more (an admittedly small pool), have an adventure for 17th-18th level characters, that can be used by any group or for any campaign, that also has similar themes to an AP and is recommended for those who want to continue on. That seems like it would expand the potential customer base. It may not be enough, since my understanding is that even generic high level adventures don't do too well.

That's what my group did, we played the Moonscar after finishing the Jade Regent, sure the themes were out of wack and the opposition was kinda weak but that's how we brought our old characters to "one last adventure together". The thing is that apart from Moonscar* there are no other Paizo modules for that high level characters and even in 3pp you would be pressed to find one that isn't the final installment of an AP.

EDIT: i forgot that there is also the witchwar legacy but from what i have read it's not a very good adventure and has one of the most stupid final boss (full arcane caster TWFing daggers, really?).

*and even that might not really work since more than half of the AP have the PCs be 17th level for the last couple of fights but that's easily changable (keeping the PCs 16th level)

Liberty's Edge

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ryric wrote:
It seems to me the solution would be to have a standalone adventure for level 17 or so, that also works really well as a followup to a specific AP. So instead of "adventure 7," which would only sell to people who had already played the AP and wanted more (an admittedly small pool), have an adventure for 17th-18th level characters, that can be used by any group or for any campaign, that also has similar themes to an AP and is recommended for those who want to continue on. That seems like it would expand the potential customer base. It may not be enough, since my understanding is that even generic high level adventures don't do too well.

I like that idea better than what I'd come up with.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tangent101 wrote:

The friendly T-Rex explained it as "we don't want to leave an adventure hanging, so we wrap things up in Book 6 - requiring people to buy a module to finish it would be unfair." (Well, I'm kind of summing things up there.)

They do a lot of work on their APs. Hell, just brainstorming ideas for an adventure with a couple of friends has taken me a bit of time. Admittedly, I'm doing this part-time and more as a lark, but even so it's not exactly easy to write a module.

(BTW, James, as a brief aside, are all the monsters in Pathfinder built assuming players use a 15-point build? If so, why is the Pathfinder Society using a 20-point build? How do the stats interact with a monster's Challenge Rating?)

Also, Paizo has a different writer for each book of the AP. If I were to hazard a guess, it probably takes 2-3 months to write up the AP. Then you also have the artists doing work (based on suggestions, probably including thumbnails and decisions on what form the art will take) and perhaps a brief trial run to see if things work.

Crafting APs is hard work. :) Heck, crafting adventures is hard work. This is why I buy Paizo's APs, and why I want them to do the hard work here. ;)

This is spot on.

And all monsters in Pathfinder are built assuming a baseline of the fact that they'll be fighting four characters representing a typical spread (the classic fighter/cleric/wizard/rogue type combo) built with 15 point stats and a moderate amount of treasure. That's what table 1–1 in the Bestiary assumes, and that's the table we try to build ALL our monsters to comply with. This not only lets us make monsters follow a standard, but allows a GM to adjust things easier since she'll be starting from a stable baseline of assumptions rather than random design decisions. The Pathfinder Society makes a fair number of changes to the game's baseline, and frankly, I've never 100% understood the reasoning for all of it, but I'm pretty sure that they up the character builds to 20 to make up for the fact that the characters in this game don't have the advantage of having a dedicated single GM to craft and tailor their game for them; they have a tangle of different GMs of different skills and different ability, and that means that making individual characters a bit more hardy and tougher is a good thing, and further because we actually DO want characters to survive and continue to play. That's just my guess though.

And yes indeed, it generally takes 2 to 3 months to write a single AP volume. It also takes about 4 to 5 weeks to develop a single adventure—which when you're on a monthly schedule, you can see why it's easy to fall behind, and why we have to start these up so far in advance. The art generally takes less time—we usually give artists 1 to 2 months to create the art they're assigned.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

John Woodford wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

The friendly T-Rex explained it as "we don't want to leave an adventure hanging, so we wrap things up in Book 6 - requiring people to buy a module to finish it would be unfair." (Well, I'm kind of summing things up there.)

In that case (and this has no doubt been proposed before), how about a module-sized addendum to an existing AP that adds enough interstitial material to give the players a few more levels, and punches up the various late-game encounters to reflect that? That way the wrapup is still the same, and you can play the AP just fine w/o the addendum. I grant that it wouldn't be easy, but I think there are already people who are doing things like that (aftermarket AP mods). At least one downside is that it'd be going after a niche market--it's not just a high-level module, it's only usable if you already have the AP.

A lot of these "solutions" seem to revolve around "Just make a bigger volume." Those take more time, and we DO things like this now and then, add additional projects and longer volumes in now and then—lately it's been a "extra" hardcover each year. That more or less consumes all of our resources and then some. It's not really a viable solution if we want to stay sane and not crash and burn.

AKA: we COULD do something like this, but there's a chance it'd ruin us by being the proverbial straw that broke the developer's back.


Well, I for one would definitely go for a 1-20 campaign, and I think everyone in this thread would support it as well. I don't care how you pull it off, I just think it's a really good idea!

I think the draw would be the mere fact that you can get up to 20th level in a campaign would make me and many others buy it.

In fact, I think the constant expansion of game rules (hardcovers etc) could use a halt for a while, so during that time you could make such an adventure.

Shadow Lodge

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Piccolo wrote:
In fact, I think the constant expansion of game rules (hardcovers etc) could use a halt for a while, so during that time you could make such an adventure.

This is obviously never going to happen, though, because it's a really bad business decision all around.


What about paring down the AP books by eliminating the bonus material?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Piccolo wrote:
What about paring down the AP books by eliminating the bonus material?

The back matter is developed and edited by a different team. So, that would not lead to more adventure. That would just lead to less book.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
What about paring down the AP books by eliminating the bonus material?
The back matter is developed and edited by a different team. So, that would not lead to more adventure. That would just lead to less book.

Fine by me, especially if it leads to the possibility of a longer adventure path somehow. I don't read the bonus material anyway. Perhaps the "different team" could be tasked to write more adventure.


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Nope, already been shot down, too much work that would compromise the overall quality of the line.

Wrath of the Righteous goes to 20, you can completely omit Mythic Adventures without changing anything at all even.


captain yesterday wrote:


Wrath of the Righteous goes to 20, you can completely omit Mythic Adventures without changing anything at all even.

Really? I thought that AP was Mythic territory through and through, and didn't go to 20 at all.

And I quote: “City of Locusts” is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 18th-level characters who have gained nine mythic tiers.


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It turns out they didn't account for how unbalanced Mythic Adventures made characters, I know for a fact that many parties have run it without Mythic Adventures just by adding Hero points.

And yes you hit twentieth level 2/3 the way thru City of Locusts.

Edit: just checked my book, you hit twentieth level when you start part 3 of 4


But what about running Wrath of the Righteous WITHOUT Hero points?

Dark Archive

Piccolo wrote:

But what about running Wrath of the Righteous WITHOUT Hero points?

You don't get mythic tiers with exp, so running them with or without hero points doesn't affect leveling.


CorvusMask wrote:
Piccolo wrote:

But what about running Wrath of the Righteous WITHOUT Hero points?

You don't get mythic tiers with exp, so running them with or without hero points doesn't affect leveling.

But is it possible to play through Wrath of the Righteous without either Hero points or Mythic tiers etc?


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Yes, yes it is.


That's not what the AP advertises. How do you know?

Dark Archive

I heard its quite hard though, but not haven't read enough about that to be quite sure xD


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Piccolo wrote:
That's not what the AP advertises. How do you know?

All you have to do is ignore the Mythic stuff like dual initiative, mythic spells and feats and roll abilities instead of using the point buy system, also there are so many artifacts, I would also strongly encourage someone to play a Paladin.

Do those and they should make it thru without any hero points or Mythic.


captain yesterday wrote:
Yes, yes it is.

I don't see how unless the GM really goes easy with the monster's own mythic abilities.


Typically, I have my players roll up their stats using this method:

4d6, take the best 3 results. Do this 6 times for your stats. If you don't like this set, you can do another but you can't take stats from the older sets.

If you can find someone else who agrees with you, captain yesterday, then I will happily take Wrath of the Righteous over Reign of Winter.


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I have never run it, however i and others like Tangent101 have been paying attention to the boards.

The truth is because the AP was being developed as Mythic Adventures was being play tested and finalized the issue was not enough information on high level Mythic play testing meant they couldn't fully grasp how over powered a full 10 tiers made player characters so as the AP progresses it becomes less and less a challenge.

Another suggestion is to have the PCs gain a level every other Mythic Tier, so you have 24-25th level characters with the final 4 or 5 levels from Prestige classes, but then it still tends to be a pushover from what i read.

Honestly all i plan on doing if and when i run it (my party doesn't care for Deskari's Insect infestation theme) all i plan on doing is rolling abilities (which we do anyway) and ignoring the mythic feats and abilities, thats all, i do expect it to be hard but not overwhelmingly so.

Hope that explains it for you, off to bed for me:-)


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Buri Reborn wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Yes, yes it is.
I don't see how unless the GM really goes easy with the monster's own mythic abilities.

Thats exactly what i'm saying, ignore the Mythic cheese completely, act like its not even there:-D


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This is the thread that catalogues all it's transgressions, its quite long and sometimes incredibly contentious i warn you:-)

edit: Tangent101 had some great ideas, if he's still around somewhere:-)


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Piccolo wrote:

Typically, I have my players roll up their stats using this method:

4d6, take the best 3 results. Do this 6 times for your stats. If you don't like this set, you can do another but you can't take stats from the older sets.

If you can find someone else who agrees with you, captain yesterday, then I will happily take Wrath of the Righteous over Reign of Winter.

I personally much prefer Reign of Winter to be honest but Wrath isn't bad, just underpowered is all, the story and adventures for the most part are still top notch (although i don't care for parts of City of Locusts).

but yes with your ability generation you should be fine, which by the way is the exact same way we do:-)

Also good tactics overcome even the most daunting challenge, also Haste, lots of Haste, but yeah this AP hands Artifacts out like Candy on Halloween:-D


captain yesterday wrote:
Thats exactly what i'm saying, ignore the Mythic cheese completely, act like its not even there:-D

Wow. That's a pervasive change. Has someone already stripped out mythic including things like the mythic ability score increases?


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No you just ignore the mythic portion, all mythic feats are essentially over powered versions of regular feats, and truth be told there aren't as many mythic creatures in the first place.


Tangent101 wrote:

{. . .}

(BTW, James, as a brief aside, are all the monsters in Pathfinder built assuming players use a 15-point build? If so, why is the Pathfinder Society using a 20-point build? How do the stats interact with a monster's Challenge Rating?)
{. . .}

It's not just PFS, but in the PbPs I have been following, 4 PCs with 15 point buy seems to be EXTREMELY in the minority; 5 PCs seems to be the overwhelming majority of party sizes (with 6 PCs seeming to be more common than 4 although less common than 5(*)), and 20 point buy seems to be the great majority of point buy values (with 25 point buy being less common but still more common than 15 point buy or rolled ability scores). The point being that it is likely to adjust the default encounter difficulty to take these modes into account, and then accommodate the occasional smaller and/or lower point buy parties in the sidebars (which would also accommodate the occasional larger and/or higher point buy parties).

(*)Have read a few Messageboard threads about parties of fewer than 4 PCs, but have yet to find one in PbP on these boards; have run into very rare examples of parties of more than 6 PCs (up to 8).


captain yesterday wrote:
No you just ignore the mythic portion, all mythic feats are essentially over powered versions of regular feats, and truth be told there aren't as many mythic creatures in the first place.

Right. Part of mythic is a crap ton of ability score increases and a ton of other things. To "ignore" it, you'd have to factor for those things. Otherwise, you're just soft balling the mythic stuff, as I said, as you're still giving the monsters benefits from it, just not all of them.


But what about the monsters and their mythic abilities that are built into them?


Piccolo wrote:
But what about the monsters and their mythic abilities that are built into them?

That's why I asked if someone already did that work. There's no small amount of it, if you really wanted to completely remove mythic.


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The mythic monsters are push overs really! a +2 to an ability score here or there isn't going to save them from a rampaging paladin, honestly if you're worried just use hero points its an easy system to use and works great for just this sort of application.

otherwise there's always Herolabs if you got it, just rebuild them without mythic, couldn't take more then a couple hours per book, really there aren't as many mythic monsters and such as you might think.


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^Reportedly (I think it is somewhere in the thread linked above by Captain Yesterday), even if you leave the limited Mythic stuff on the monsters but don't let thte PCs have any, they still bulldoze through the AP, optionally with the help of regenerating Hero Points.

Edit: Ninja'd!


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UnArcaneElection gets it:-)


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Buri Reborn wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
No you just ignore the mythic portion, all mythic feats are essentially over powered versions of regular feats, and truth be told there aren't as many mythic creatures in the first place.
Right. Part of mythic is a crap ton of ability score increases and a ton of other things. To "ignore" it, you'd have to factor for those things. Otherwise, you're just soft balling the mythic stuff, as I said, as you're still giving the monsters benefits from it, just not all of them.

There are a crap ton of ability increases... for the PCs:-D

:
the monsters don't get s@*$, even the ones with Mythic paths don't have enough tiers to considerably boost their challenge, they might last an extra round, maybe.


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It should be doable with Hero Labs.

The long and short of it is that Paizo has no interest in doing a non-Mythic AP that runs to level 20.

It might be doable for Paizo to do a second Mythic AP. If they did, I would suggest they limit it to 5 Mythic Tiers. Wise GMs would also nerf certain Mythic Feats (or as I suggest, treat critical hits as the same as non-Mythic Vital Strike - the only thing you multiply is the number of dice you roll. Thus a Str 18 Fighter who crits with a longsword would do 2d8+4 damage instead of 2d8+8).

I will admit that I decided to see what I could do on my own in crafting a level 1-20 adventure campaign. Seeing that I don't have to worry about length, I even went with Slow Advancement, though I have decided to negate the squishiness of level 1 characters by granting them double hit points for level 1 (and then probably no extra HPs for level 2). After all, if Paizo's not going to do it... I might as well dust off my old creative talents (and the mythos of old I designed for my campaign world).

It's just easier for me if Paizo did this instead. ;)


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Hey, there he is:-D

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